The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Collections

Our new catalog is here!

In April we announced the preview of our new catalog, and now it is time to make it official: the new catalog is here! Visit it at https://catalog.folger.edu/. TIND ILS (Get comfy; this is a long one. Feel free to scroll down to the New features and resources section if you want to skip to the bells and whistles!) The new catalog is powered by the TIND ILS (Integrated Library System).… Continue Reading

The Harmsworth Collection

Book collecting is a passion, or as Nicholas Basbanes famously called it, “a gentle madness,” that affects no few people. Henry and Emily Folger were two such bibliophiles, amassing the largest private collection of Shakespeareana in the world. This collection now forms the core of the Folger Shakespeare Library, which as an institution gives shape to their larger vision of making the study, appreciation, and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works available to all.… Continue Reading

What’s in a playbill?

The Folger collection includes approximately 250,000 playbills, the single-sheet precursors of today’s multi-page theater programs. By the 1750s, London playbills had developed the standard layout you see in this blog post. They presented an evening’s entertainment as a sort of theatrical equivalent to a modern restaurant posting their daily bill of fare, where a repertoire of various dishes for each course appears in a different combination every night.… Continue Reading

Introducing the Folger Reference Image Collection

Sometimes when people contact the Folger to ask questions about items in our collections, the easiest way to provide an answer is to take a quick photo of a particular detail. This has resulted in a growing collection of smartphone images of collections materials. We are now making them available in the Folger Reference Image Collection. These images are shared under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication License (CC0 1.0), so anyone can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. … Continue Reading

Announcing the Earle Hyman Collection

Earle Hyman as the Prince of Morocco in a 1953 production of Merchant of Venice Earlier this year, the Folger Shakespeare Library was privileged to receive the Earle Hyman Collection, including many of the actor’s personal papers, photographs, and theatrical ephemera, as a gift from his family and friends. Although we’re closed for renovations, we wanted to highlight this fabulous collection, as well as to recognize Mr.… Continue Reading

What are ancient coins doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

Thanks for the great guesses at the identity of the November 2019 Crocodile. It’s tempting to pick one at random and just run with it (“Why yes, it is King Lear’s lost button!”) but in fact, Robin Swope’s guess that it’s an old coin is correct. It is, in fact, a bronze prutah of Porcius Festus, Roman procurator of Judea. It’s dated the 5th year of Emperor Nero’s rule, which means it’s from 58 or 59 CE.… Continue Reading

Untangling Lady Day dating and the Julian calendar

Folger X.c.92 (3) is my new favorite manuscript: it’s a letter written in Paris that single-handedly demonstrates the fact that “new style” dates refer to two different calendar modernizations. One modernization has to do with the Christian calendar’s reckoning of “the year of our Lord.” The other relates to the Julian calendar having gradually become ten days behind the seasonal year thanks to its miscalculation that a leap year is needed every four years, no exceptions.… Continue Reading

Imagining an 18th century Jane Doe

A fake woman with fake initials and a fake seal? What is going on with these early 18th century affidavits? Curator of Manuscripts Heather Wolfe explores burials, bureaucracy, and "ritualized compliance" in this post about two recent acquisitions.

The Strange and Practical Beauty of Small-Format Herbals

A guest post by Katarzyna Lecky The Folger Shakespeare Library has a wealth of pre-Linnaean English herbals (printed guides to the medicinal qualities of plants) ranging from gorgeous folios to pocket-sized reference manuals. Although the large-format botanical works boast an undeniable aesthetic appeal with their elaborate frontispieces and pages filled with engraved plates of flora, little herbals are often more compelling for those of us interested in who used them, how, and why.… Continue Reading

Of Counts and Causes: The Emergence of the London Bills of Mortality

A guest post by Dr. Kristin Heitman The Folger’s rare holdings let us glimpse aspects of Renaissance and early modern practices otherwise lost to us. For example, while many European cities and towns had well-documented methods for monitoring the health of their residents, particularly during plague epidemics, significant details of the programs’ inner workings are disclosed only in a series of Folger documents—particularly for the City of London.… Continue Reading